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Asylum-seekers test positive for COVID-19 in Texas

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108 asylum-seekers have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus in Brownsville, TX since they began administering COVID-19 tests on Jan. 25, which is 6.3% of those who took the test, a spokesperson for Brownsville confirmed.

The city of Brownsville administers these rapid tests at the bus station, after migrant families are released by the Border Patrol, according to NBC News.

A Brownsville city spokesperson said in an email obtained by NBC News that the city does not have the authority to retain these migrants who plan to travel to cities throughout the country. The spokesperson assured that municipal workers recommend to those who test positive to keep quarantine as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The City of Brownsville continues to follow all guidelines provided by the CDC and DSHS (Department of State Health Services) for Covid-19. The migrants who test positive at the B-Metro facility are advised of quarantine procedures and are asked to socially distance,” Felipe Romero, Brownsville’s communications and marketing director, said in an emailed statement.

“There are several NGOs providing resources to a positive case,” the email continues. “For example, organizations help with quarantine either in a shelter or at hotel. Since the City started testing the migrants on January 25, there has been 6.3% of positive cases. The Cameron County positivity rate is 13.8%.”

At least eight asylum-seekers tested positive for COVID-19 in Brownsville, Tx Tuesday after crossing the Rio Grande border Monday.

Miriam Izaguirre, a 35-year-old asylum-seeker from Honduras, crossed the Rio Grande border on Monday with her son and turned herself in to the authorities, NBC News reported.

Izaguirre was then tested for coronavirus at the Brownsville bus station. As she was waiting to catch a bus to Houston, her test results came back positive.

“Right now we were tested for Covid and they separated about eight of us because we were positive,” Izaguirre told Noticias Telemundo Investiga. “We are waiting right now.”

Other migrant families who were waiting to travel to North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey, also tested positive.

Several of the asylum-seekers who tested positive told Noticias Telemundo Investiga they were still planning to travel to their destinations, despite the positive COVID-19 results.

Eva Orellana, an asylum-seeker from Honduras who tested positive, said she was going to take the bus to North Carolina with her 3-year-old daughter. “On the way, we were wearing a mask all the time, gel, washing our hands,” she said. “Really, I don’t feel anything.”

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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